Archive for the ‘THEATRE’ Category

“Mamma Mia”–Farewell Tour Review   Leave a comment

 

 

Looking for about 2 hours and 20 minutes of living a fairy tale on a bright sunny Greek island and dancing, singing the time away? “Mamma Mia” is the answer to any blues you might have.

The book of this musical by Catherine Johnson is light weight but the songs by ABBA, the choreography by Anthony Van Laast  offers laughs, not to forget a bunch of finely chiseled bodies wearing wet suits and flippers dancing around and a director Phyllida Lloyd who gets all the laughs and even a tear that the show can offer.

 

With all this it is the music that will have you moving in your seat with the conductor Kevin Casey and his orchestra along with the sound designed by Andrew Bruce and Bobby Aitken plus the lighting by Howard Harrison along with some of the most outlandish 1970s disco costumes by Ron Glow inside the production designed by Mark Thompson helping it all along.

 

Whether you are familiar with the songs composed by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus along with Stig Anderson, and this audience was more than familiar with them, you will feel right at home with “Dancing Queen”, “Money, Money, Money”, “Knowing Me, Knowing You”, “Thank You For The Music”, “The Winner Takes It All” with 16 others.

 

For the few who haven’t seen the show “Mamma Mia” is about Sophie (Lizzie Markson) who is marrying Sky (Dustin Harris Smith) and after secretly reading single mom’s (Betsy Padamonsky) diary she discovers her father could be one of 3 men; Sam (Shai Yammanee) an American architect, Bill (Marc Cornes) a Swedish writer and Harry (Andrew Tebo)      a British banker, and without telling Donna, Sophie invites them to the wedding while Donna has invited her old friends Tanya (Cashelle Butler)       and Rosie (Sarah Smith) who entertained as a singing trio 21 years previously.

 

All the leads are strong singers with Padamonsky and Yammanee having a bit of an edge mainly because of the songs they get to sing while Cornes and Smith do a very funny duet. They are backed up by a singing, dancing, acting ensemble that made the performance feel fresh, not a single performer on stage was phoning it in.

 

SPOILER: For those of you who run up the aisle as soon as the cast start taking their bows don’t as you will miss THE best part of “Mamma Mia” and which, since 1999, has helped make the show a long running success in over 23 countries including 14 years on Broadway.

 

Running time 2 hours and 30 minutes with a 20 minute intermission.

 

Check out  http://mammamiaontour.com/mm/  for the schedule of the tour.

Posted May 20, 2017 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, THEATRE, THEATRE REVIEW

THE CLASSIC GATEWAY THEATRE FORT LAUDEDALE   Leave a comment

Gateway Theatre Collage

I remember when I lived in Miami Beach in the 1950s and a group of us would go up to Fort Lauderdale to ‘spend a day in the country’. It wasn’t until the Spring Break started coming in mobs that the strip around A1A and Los Olas Boulevard became THE place, especially the Elbo Room where wet t-shirt contests became famous.

We would spend time on the beach; get a bite to eat and then head into ‘town’ and go to the Gateway Theatre to see a movie. I do remember seeing “Where The Boys Are” when it had its premiere there.

I left Florida in the mid 1960s and returned to live in Fort Lauderdale in 1979 and since then I have seen at least 45, if not more, movies every year there. I don’t know when it became a 4 auditorium movie house or became the only ‘art’ theatre in Broward County, though there are a few more now, but it is still my choice of a movie theatre to go to.

The choices of movies goes from classics, to independent movies, gay films, festivals, foreign films, documentaries and let’s not forget “The Rocky Horror Show” 3 Saturdays a month.

Recently renovated with new seats, floors, they still have the comments board, which can be as much fun reading as seeing the movies!

The Classic Gateway Theatre may have the best of retro feeling but it is as modern as that huge complex you go to without the friendly smiles (yes, Ray does smile!) you get here.

Chances are if it is a Friday you can see me at the Gateway!  http://classicgateway.com/ 

 

 Looking around the Gateway Theatre

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j56CNVmyrMI&feature=youtu.be

Posted May 17, 2017 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, THEATRE

“The King and I”–Touring Company Review   Leave a comment

There is one word to describe the tour of “The King and I” that opened at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County last night and the word is perfect.

From the opening scene on the deck of the Chow Phyaarriving at the docks of Bankok and Anna (Laura Michelle Kelly) singing “I Whistle a Happy Tune” to Anna and the King (Jose Llana) singing “Shall We Dance” in the King’s study you couldn’t ask for a better score for a musical nor for it to be better sung than by the aforementioned plus the other 35 members of the cast.

The sets by Michael Yeargan, the costumes from Anna’s dresses to the Royal Children’s outfit by Catherine Zuber, to the lighting of Donald Holder along with a sound system by Scott Lehrer that allows you to hear every word along with choreography by Christopher Gattelli, based on the original by Jerome Robbins, not the forget the director Barlett Sher and add to this an 18 piece orchestra conducted by Gerlad Steichen and you have a magical night in the theatre.

Based upon the novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon Oscar Hammerstein wrote the book for the show plus the lyrics while Richard Rodgers wrote the music and with a score consisting of “I Whistle a Happy Tune”, “Hello Young Lovers”, “We Kiss in a Shadow”, “Getting to Know You”, “A Puzzlement”, “I Have Dreamed” and “Something Wonderful” along with 8 other songs making this is definitely one of their best scores. Put in the ballet “The Small House of Uncle Thomas” and you have just one more jaw dropping part of a show that will make you laugh and, yes, bring tears to your eyes. Oh wait I can’t forget “The March of the Siamese Children” that will have you being charmed by the children.

Set in 1860’s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher whom the modernist King, in an inperialistic world, brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children.

Laura Michelle Kelley plays a strong Anna with a beguiling voice that just pulls you into her corner and Jose Llana is sly, funny, smart and an equal match for his co-star. Q Lim and Kavin Panmeechao, as the young lovers Tuptim and Lun Tha, bring tenderness and sadness in their duets of “We Kiss in a Shadow” and “I Have Dreamed”. I gather from the Paybill biographies this is Miss Lim’s National tour debut as part of the ensemble and is the understudy for the role of Tuptim. I am not sure if this was her first time doing the role but if it was you would never have known. Her narrating the ballet sequence was fierce and her performance moving. In addition to the strong performances and singing already mentioned Joan Almedilla as Lady Thiang, the eldest of the wives, sings “Something Wonderful” explaining the man she is married to with such tenderness and strength she moves not only Anna but every member of the audience.

“The King and I” is the last show of the Miami 2016-2017 season and ends it on a very high note.

For anyone living outside the South Florida area I suggest you go to the web site http://thekinganditour.com/tickets/ to see when it is coming to your city and get tickets now!

For those living in the Miami-Dade/Broward county area call 305-949-6722 or go to the www.arshtcenter.org  site and get any tickets available between today and Sunday, May 14—a great Mother’s Day present!

The running time is 2 hours and 54 minutes including a 20 minute intermission.

 

Posted May 10, 2017 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, REVIEWS, THEATRE, THEATRE REVIEW

Tonight is THE night!   Leave a comment

King and I collage

At approximately 8 PM—more likely 8:05—the house lights at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami will come down, a brief announcement regarding cell phones and picture taking will be made and then the conductor will lift his baton and I will hear

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EDqnf5eivk

OR

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7cI_6Fs0qs&index=7&list=PL2jpQxYH_JEh_OVEAK7slArTfllCgdnn8

the overature live for the first time in a theatre since 1951 for a performance of “The King and I”.

Look for my review Wednesday!

Posted May 9, 2017 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, THEATRE, Uncategorized

The King and I Part 3 Trivia   Leave a comment

It didn’t take long for the song “We Kiss in a Shadow” to become a Gay anthem in 1951. There wasn’t a bar in New York City that didn’t have the song on their jukebox, usually the Perry Como recording, or in a piano bar wasn’t requested from the piano player to play and sing it at least a dozen times. (Yes I was only 15 but back then the drinking age was 18 and not only did I look older I also had a phony ID card!)

This is a recording by Jose Llana who played Lun Tha in this Broadway rival and took over the role of the King for 11 weeks on Broadway and is now starring in that role on tour opening in Miami tomorrow night.

“We Kiss in a Shadow” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dOXbILvZwQ

 

“The King and I” was revived in NYC 5 times and won a total of 15 Tony awards including best musical in 1951 and best revival in 1996 and for the current production.

Yul Brynner played the role of the King 4,625 times plus in the movie. When the show opened he was a ‘featured’ player until, Gertrude Lawrence, knowing she was dying, asked Rodgers and Hammerstein to put his name above the title.

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein are considered the greatest musical partnership of the 20th century writing 22 shows together for Broadway, the movies and television. Among their works are “Oklahoma”, “Carousel”, “South Pacific”, “Sound of Music” with “The King and I” considered one of their best and most successful scores. These 15 song videos from the current “The King and I” revival to open at the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center in Miami will show you why.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypK2l4QvkTw&list=PL8YeGqOUYwM_reNudnsh46OgKAjfxqG2a

 

Posted May 8, 2017 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MUSICAL THEATRE, THEATRE

How do you expalin feelings/emotions that take you over completely?   Leave a comment

I came across this video by accident and was immediately transferred back to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1976, sitting on the couch with Johnny as we got ready to watch the Tony Award show as I did every year since they started being televised. What I watched today is the exact same thing I watched 41 years ago and I had the exact same feelings when it reached the 1:33 mark. I don’t think I breathed for the next 7 minutes back then or today or the 101 times I had seen it performed live on stage.

Not having a computer back then, and it being Sunday which meant the theatre box office was closed, I waited until Monday morning and immediately made arrangements to spend a week in September in New York to see “A Chorus Line”. The first time I saw the show sitting in the second row of the mezzanine I was as stunned for the 2 hours and 10 minutes I watched this show.

Every time I see the show, every time I see a video from it, I become overwhelmed with feelings and to this day, as it happened again, I can’t explain what the feelings are and why I feel those emotions.

The Tony Awards opening number in 1976 with the original cast

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htLGQ3CDODY

 

On June 11 there is a good chance that Bette Midler will win an award for Best Actress in a musical for her starring role in the “Hello Dolly” revival when this year’s Tony Awards will be presented on TV. Here she is 43 years ago explaining why everyone should go to the theatre.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uf8ql7lbwg

The King of Siam, Anna and I in 1951 Part 2   Leave a comment

Jose Llana and Laura Michelle Kelly in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I. Photo by Matthew Murphy
Jose Llana as the King and Laura Michelle Kelly as Anna  

Photo by Matthew Murphy

The first time I saw the complete show was when I was invited to the Actors Fund performance which was held on a Sunday as most shows didn’t give performances and it gave the casts of those shows to see the ones they heard so much of and were anxious to see.

The night was a star studded night and I was sitting in the middle of an audience that I had only seen on stage or in movies. It was a night I would never forget as this was an audience of professionals who knew what work went into a show and it was clear both on and off stage all were having a night even better than an opening night! Gertrude Lawrence was loved by her peers and Yul Brynner captivated the audience.

The next time I was to see “The King and I” was in December. My mother belonged to “Show of the Month” club and as my father was usually out of town I would be her escort. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but something was off as the show wasn’t as ‘exciting’ as it had been the last time I saw it. I won’t say that I knew something was wrong but 9 months later, at the age of 54, Gertrude Lawrence died of liver cancer that was never diagnosed.

I had been going to the theatre since 1944 when I saw the original cast of “Oklahoma” and picturing myself as Alfred Drake being Curly and the following year I wanted to be John Raitt as Billy Bigelow bringing me to tears as he sang the “Soliloquy”. I saw some of the best dramas such as “A Streetcar Named Desire” but I never remembered falling apart as I did when I heard about Gertrude Lawrence’s death. I was never to feel that way about another actor or actresses’ death.

Not seeing a stage production of “The King and I” for the next 66 years had nothing to do with that but just not being at the right place in the right time each time it was revived.

The Touring company montage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eU3KfgXd6c

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